Board of Trustees

The University of Central Asia is governed by the Board of Trustees, appointed by the Chancellor and Patrons of the University. The Trustees bring a wealth of expertise and experience, and include prominent individuals with distinguished backgrounds in academia, government, development, and civil society.


Inaugural Session of UCA's Board of Trustees (6 November 2017). Front Row (L to R): Mrs. Elvira Sarieva, Prince Rahim Aga Khan, His Highness the Aga Khan, Princess Zahra Aga Khan, Dr. Shamsh Kassim-Lakha, Senator Byrganym Aitimova. Back Row (L to R): Mr. Naguib Kheraj, Dr. Hans Hurni, Dr. Shenggen Fan, Dr. Sharofat Mamadambarova. Not pictured: Lutfiya Abdulkholiqzoda.


Dr. Shamsh Kassim-Lakha
Chairman, UCA Board of Trustees
Diplomatic Representative of the Aga Khan Development Network in the Kyrgyz Republic

Dr. Shamsh Kassim-Lakha is the Chairman of the Board of the University of Central Asia (UCA). From June 2014 to September 2018, he was responsible for leading the planning, building and operation of the campuses and programmes of the University across all three of its Founding States.

Dr. Kassim-Lakha has a long association with UCA. He served as co-chair of the Commission on the Establishment of an International Institution of Higher Education, a distinguished panel of international and regional members who in 1988 developed the concept for the University. In 2000, he was involved in the negotiations of the International Treaty that led to UCA's establishment by the governments of Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Kazakhstan, and His Highness the Aga Khan. In 2014, Dr. Kassim-Lakha was appointed Diplomatic Representative of the Aga Khan Development Network to the Kyrgyz Republic.

As Founding President of the Aga Khan University, the first private university chartered in South Asia, for nearly three decades Dr. Kassim-Lakha led the planning, building and operations of this internationally renowned institution established by His Highness the Aga Khan in 1983 with campuses in Pakistan, Eastern Africa and the United Kingdom.

Dr. Kassim-Lakha has served in senior positions in the Pakistan government, including as the country's Minister of Education and as Minister of Science and Technology in the caretaker government in 2007-8. As Minister of State in 2001-2, he led the task force which recommended higher education reforms in Pakistan, resulting in major structural changes in universities and the creation of the Higher Education Commission, of which he was a member from 2007 to 2011. In September 2018, he was appointed to the Board of Governors of HEC. He also chaired the committee which wrote Pakistan's National Environment Protection Act (1997). The first two decades of his career were with the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development where he served as Managing Director of Industrial Promotion Services of Pakistan, a manufacturing and venture capital company with a work force of 22,000.

Dr. Kassim-Lakha is a Senior Distinguished Fellow with the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto. Recently he retired as Founding Chair of the Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy Board, where he served for fifteen years, and from the international Board of the International Baccalaureate Organisation. Dr. Kassim-Lakha has written and published on school and higher education, philanthropy, civil society and management in renowned journals including the Lancet and Nature and has contributed book chapters on these themes. He is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Aga Khan Music Awards.

Dr. Kassim-Lakha received his undergraduate education from the South Bank and Westminister Universities, in London and completed his graduate studies at the University of Minnesota, USA.

In recognition of his academic and social work, Dr. Kassim-Lakha has received honorary degrees from McMaster University, Canada and the Aga Khan University. His awards for distinguished service include Sitara-e-Imtiaz and Hilal-e-Imtiaz from the President of Pakistan and Officer of the National Order of Merit from the President of France.


Princess Zahra Aga Khan
Member, Board of Directors of the Aga Khan Development Network

Princess Zahra Aga Khan is a Member of the Board of Directors of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). She has policy and management responsibility for the Health, Education, and Planning and Building Services Companies of the AKDN and their institutions, working in more than a dozen countries in the Developing World. She is also involved at the strategic level with other agencies of the AKDN, working in the areas of social and economic development.

Princess Zahra is a Trustee of the Aga Khan University, and sits on the Boards of the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance and of the Global Centre for Pluralism.

Princess Zahra attended Le Rosey School in Switzerland and received her undergraduate degree cum laude in Development Studies from Harvard University (AB'94). She also completed a four-month programme at Massachusetts General Hospital to enhance her understanding of healthcare systems and the delivery of advanced medical care, and an Executive Finance course at the International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne.


Prince Rahim Aga Khan
Chair, Executive Committee of the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance

Prince Rahim is the second of His Highness the Aga Khan's four children. Based in Geneva, he is Chair of the Executive Committee of the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance and is a member of the Board of the Fondation de Chantilly in France.

A graduate of Brown University, Rhode Island, USA with a Bachelor's Degree in Comparative Literature awarded in 1996, Prince Rahim received his secondary education at Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts. After spending some time in the construction sector, in 2006 Prince Rahim completed an executive development programme in management and administration, at the University of Navarra IESE Business School in Barcelona, Spain, before joining the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).

Prince Rahim travels regularly to Asia and Africa to oversee microfinance programmes and other projects of the AKDN.


Dr. Lutfiya Abdulkholiqzoda
Deputy Chairperson of the Committee on Science, Education, Culture and Youth Policy in the Parliament of Tajikistan

Dr. Lutfiya Abdulkholiqzoda is the Deputy Chairperson of the Committee on Science, Education, Culture and Youth Policy in the Parliament of Tajikistan since March 2020. Prior to being appointed in this role, she was Head of the Department of Science and Education of the Executive Apparatus of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan for one year. She served as Rector of the State Institution of Education "Institute of Public Administration under the President of the Republic of Tajikistan" from 2015 to 2019. She was also Pro-Rector of the Tajik Institute of Finances and Economics from 2012 to 2015. Dr. Abdulkholiqzoda taught Russian language and literature for national schools and was a teacher of Tajik language and literature for Russian-language schools between 1993 – 2003.

Dr. Abdulkholiqzoda holds a Candidate of Sciences in pedagogy (PhD), Associate Professor, and graduated in 1993 from the State Pedagogical University of Tajikistan.

She serves as Deputy of Majlis (house) of People's Deputies of Sino District of Dushanbe of the 5th Convocation, and holds several state awards including a Medal "Meritorious Service" (2014); Medal "For Distinguished Service" (2009); Award "Honoured Worker of Education of Tajikistan" (2010); awards of Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Culture. She is married with three children.


Senator Byrganym Aitimova
Deputy Chairperson of the Council of Senators

Senator Byrganym Aitimova has been a member of the Kazakh Senate since 2013, prior to which she was Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the United Nations for 6 years. From 2004 until 2007, Senator Aitimova served as Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan. She has also served as Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan to Israel and Italy.

Senator Aitimova holds a Law degree from the Ural State Pedagogical Institute and a degree in Education from the Kazakh State University. She received a degree in Political Science and Management from the Almaty Institute of Political Science and Management in 1997.

Senator Aitimova was born in Zelenovskiy Rayon, West Kazakhstan Oblast and speaks fluent Kazakh, Russian and English. She is married with two children.


Dr. Shenggen Fan
Director General, International Food Policy Research Institute

Dr. Shenggen Fan has been director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) since 2009.

Dr. Fan joined IFPRI in 1995 as a research fellow, conducting extensive research on pro-poor development strategies in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. He led IFPRI's programme on public investment before becoming the director of the Institute's Development Strategy and Governance Division in 2005.

He is one of the Champions of Target 12.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals, dedicated to inspiring ambition, mobilizing action, and accelerating progress toward cutting global food loss and waste. He serves as a member of the Lead Group for the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. Dr. Fan also serves as advisor to many national governments (including China and Vietnam) on agriculture, food security and nutrition.

In 2014, Dr. Fan received the Hunger Hero Award from the World Food Programme in recognition of his commitment to, and leadership in fighting hunger worldwide. Dr. Fan received a PhD in applied economics from the University of Minnesota and bachelor's and master's degrees from Nanjing Agricultural University in China.


Professor Hans Hurni
Founding President, Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern

Professor Hans Hurni is Founding President of the Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern. His areas of professional focus include: natural resource management; sustainable development appraisal; soil erosion process assessments; soil and water conservation experimentation; and nature conservation.

Professor Hurni served as Co-Director of the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research North-South from 2001 to 2013 during which he engaged in research partnerships for mitigating syndromes of global change. He was a member of the Swiss delegation to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, "Rio+20" in 2012. Since 2011, Professor Hurni has led the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation in supporting Water and Land Resource Centres in the Horn of Africa and East Africa.

He is the lead author of Global Chapter 1 of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (2005–2008); has been Editor-in-Chief of Mountain Research and Development since 2012; and is Associate Chief Editor, International Soil and Water Conservation Research.

Professor Hurni is a member of UCA's Mountain Societies Research Institute Thinking Group, which provides support and oversight to the Institute.


Mr. Naguib Kheraj
Senior Advisor to the Aga Khan Development Network

Mr Naguib Kheraj is a banker by background. He began his career at Salomon Brothers in 1986 and went on to hold a number of senior positions at leading international financial institutions. Over the course of 12 years at Barclays, Mr Kheraj served as Group Finance Director and Vice-Chairman and in various business leadership positions. He was Chief Executive Officer of JP Morgan Cazenove, a London-based investment banking business.

Mr Kheraj is currently the Chairman of Rothesay Life, a specialist pensions insurer. He is also Deputy Chairman of Standard Chartered, an international banking group and a member of the Finance Committee of the University of Cambridge.

Mr Kheraj spends a substantial proportion of his time as a Senior Advisor to the Aga Khan Development Network and serves on the Boards of various entities within the Aga Khan Development Network including Chairing its Endowment Committee.

Mr Kheraj is a former Non-Executive Director of National Health Service England, and has served as a Senior Advisor to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs Service and to the Financial Services Authority in the UK. He has also served as a member of the Board of the UK-US Fulbright Commission, the Princes Trust Development Board, the Investment Committee of the Wellcome Trust, and the Finance Committee of Oxford University Press.

Mr Kheraj was educated at Dulwich College, London, and Cambridge University where he graduated with a degree in Economics.


Dr. Sharofat Mamadambarova
Former Vice Rector of International Relations, Khorog State University

Dr. Sharofat Mamadambarova has been affiliated with the Aga Khan Humanities Project (AKHP) at the University of Central Asia (UCA) since 1998 in curriculum development and assessment, and as a Master Trainer at Khorog State University (KSU). Her career with KSU began in 1992 during which period she served as Head of the Department of Foreign Languages, Dean of Humanities and finally as Vice Rector of International Relationships.

Prior to joining KSU, Dr. Mamadambarova spent 16 years with the Foreign Languages Faculty at the Dushanbe Pedagogical University. She joined as an Assistant Professor of English in 1976 graduating to hold key university administrative leadership roles first as the Vice Dean of the Foreign Languages Faculty and subsequently as Head of the Department.

Dr. Mamadambarova has consulted with the Christensen Fund on various research projects and has participated in numerous exchanges and trainings on pedagogy and assessment in the USA.

She received her PhD from the Institute of Oriental Studies in Moscow in 1990.

Dr. Mamadambarova is currently on sabbatical from UCA.


Dr. Nurlan Omurov
Deputy Minister of Education, Kyrgyz Republic

Dr. Nurlan Omurov is the Deputy Minister of Education, Kyrgyz Republic. He completed his PhD from the University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain in 2012 and was awarded a graduate degree from the National Academy of Sciences of the Kyrgyz Republic, Institute of Mathematics in 1996.

Prior to his current role, he served as the rector of the Kyrgyz-German Institute of Applied Informatics. From February 2016 to April 2019 he National Coordinator of the project “KyrMedu: Development of Higher Education in the Field of Biomedical Engineering and Management in Healthcare in Kyrgyzstan” at West Saxon University of Applied Sciences (Germany). Dr. Omurov also served as Dean of the faculty of New Information Technologies of Naryn State University for 11 years (1997-2008).


Professor Andrew Petter, CM, QC
President of Simon Fraser University

Andrew Petter is the President and Vice Chancellor of Simon Fraser University, and Professor in its School of Public Policy.

Since becoming President in 2010, he has overseen the development and implementation of a Strategic Vision that has distinguished SFU as Canada's “engaged university defined by its dynamic integration of innovative education, cutting edge research and far-reaching community engagement.”

Under his leadership, SFU has been rated Canada's top comprehensive university in the Maclean's University Rankings for nine of the past ten years, and was recently named first in the world for its impact on sustainable cities and communities in the globally recognized Times Higher Education Impact Rankings.

In 2018, he was appointed to the Order of Canada in recognition of his commitment and leadership in advancing university-community engagement and higher education throughout the country.


Prof. Dr. S. Sohail H. Naqvi
UCA Rector

Prof. Dr. S. Sohail H. Naqvi is the Rector of the University of Central Asia. Prior to joining UCA in August 2018, Dr. Naqvi served as Vice Chancellor of the Lahore University of Management Sciences for five years where he had spearheaded the transition of this prestigious, primarily undergraduate, institution into the top ranked research universities of the country. The QS Asian University Ranking of LUMS increased from 191-200 range in 2014 to 103 in 2018. The student body at LUMS during this period increased by 30% with a decrease in student – teacher ratio and significant increase in quality of intake. He led the establishment of the LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship that has become the premier hub of innovation in the country following the establishment of the National Incubation Center (Lahore) there. Introduction of a formalised quality assurance system across the university across all disciplines, accreditation of programmes and rigorous implementation of the tenure track system of appointment brought a paradigm shift in the quality of education and research at the university.

Prior to LUMS, he was the Executive Director of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) for eight years. He oversaw the implementation of an ambitious portfolio of programmes which resulted in significant growth of research in Pakistan's universities, the quadrupling of student enrollment, standardisation of programmes at the undergraduate and postgraduate level with clear quality related benchmarks along with the implementation of a comprehensive higher education quality assurance regime. He has extensive teaching, research and entrepreneurial experience both in the US and Pakistan, and has also been a consultant on higher education for the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank. He was awarded Order of the ‘Palmes Académiques' with rank of Chevalier, by the French Government, and the Sitar-e-Imtiaz by the Government of Pakistan for his services to higher education.

Dr. Naqvi earned his BSc (with highest distinction), MSc and PhD degrees (all in Electrical Engineering) from Purdue University, USA. He served as an Assistant and Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, USA, before returning to Pakistan in 1995 to join the Faculty of Electronics at the GIK Institute of Technology. Dr. Naqvi also has a number of patents to his credit and co-developed scatterometry as a metrology technique and process sensor for micro-electronic and opto-electronic fabrication.


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